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Is Germany’s CDU edging leftwards?  It’s not the first time this question has been asked and it was asked again recently by The Economist.  The Economist was reflecting upon ‘The Rüttgers effect’ – the effect of the CDU premier of Germany’s most populated state, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Rüttgers, who styles himself as "the workers’ leader" has advocated (and helped secure) more entitlements for the unemployed and pensioners at the national level.  But he has also cut his state’s large budget deficit, ended subsidies for declining industries and introduced university tuition fees.

The Economist concludes:

"Mr Rüttgers insists that reform is only possible “if people don’t feel it means less for them.” He sees no tension between social goals and economic efficiency. Companies that rationalise too much reduce productivity. Better education translates into higher GDP. What looks like contradiction is “the politics of balance”. From Monday to Saturday, North Rhine-Westphalia’s rules on shop-opening hours are the “most liberal in Germany”. Sunday, he says, is for the family."

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